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Air Force to get E29 fighter jets this year: MoD

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Monday said that Afghan Air Force (AAF) would be equipped with 20 Super E29 fighter jets by the end of this year.

Spokesman to the defense ministry, General Dawlat Waziri, said that E29 is good aircraft when it comes to close combat support. He said the fighter jets would be available this year to the fledging air force of the country. Speaking at a press conference here he said that Afghan pilots are going under training in the United States in this regard.

Last year, the US defense ministry has promised to provide six new MB-530 choppers, transport aircraft and 20 Super E29 fighter jets to AAF.

Waziri claimed that wrong decisions in the Bonn Conference in 2001 were the main factors behind the problems faced by the Afghan armed forces, especially the air force.

He said that in the Bonn Conference, it was decided to build Afghan army consisting of only 70,000 troops without considering air force, engineering, combat support, air defense and telecommunication corps and detachment. “It was a wrong decision and betrayal. In 2006, we succeeded to attract international community’s support for formation of strong armed forces with all necessary corps and detachments,” he added.

The spokesman said that due to the challenges, finally in 2009 practical steps were taken to strengthen the air force, adding that after five years the Afghan army has build tremendous capacity in air transportation. “Infrastructure has been built for strengthening of the air force in different provinces. Currently, aviation corps is active in Kabul, Herat and Kandahar provinces. Afghan Air Force training academy is also active in Kabul,” he said.

Counting challenges, he said that despite some progress, lack Close Air Support (CAS) was still a big challenge for the army.

Commander of the Afghan Air Force, Major General Mohammad Dawran, said that great progress has been made in area of infrastructure and transportation, but for the army lack of CAS was still haunting problem.

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